Hands-On Preview: Save me Martin Short!
PixelJunk Shooter 2, the latest in the PlayStation Network series from the creative and quirky Q-Games, was playable at this year's E3 in the Sony booth. Being a huge fan of the first game, I was eager to get some hands-on time with the second game. The game met, then exceeded, then totally blew away all of my expectations.
Sony designer Brian Upton talked me through the demo and helped me out with some helpful hints and pointers while giving me some information about the game. The first question I asked when I sat down was, ?Will there be any DLC for the first Shooter, or will this game come right after the first?? Had I simply been more patient and waited for the loading screen, the question would have been unnecessary, as the game's subtitle is ?In the Belly of the Beast,? meaning the game starts just moments after the last one ends.
There's much that's familiar ? you operate the S.S. Pinita Colada to save the surviving workers and the special survivors waving their flags, as well as collect coins (I love spinning to get them) and diamonds. The same game mechanics apply as well ? using the grappling hook to scoop things up, shooting out monsters and certain walls, and solving puzzles to get around the levels. The physics we all know and love are still there, continuing that same incredibly fluid gameplay.
But much has changed as well ? including new monsters and new interactable environments. The first level I got to play was within the frightening belly, which pulsed and spewed acid on me while I tried to dodge, weave, and save the survivors. This level was affectionately titled ?Inner Space,? reminiscent of the Martin Short movie. Here, there's the threat of the stomach acid itself. Once you get splattered with the corrosive material, your ship's heat rises, and stays up until you get to water and rinse off the hull. The acid pours down out of ducts, and you have to be careful when you hit the walls ? some sections are spongey and have absorbed acid, covering you in the purple fluid. Unlike water, you can't shoot through the acid, so if monsters appear, you have to wait until they're out of the acid or the acid stops flowing to kill them. There's also lava here ? what's this beast been eating? ? and in the part I played, water was released through sphincters, allowing for more maneuverability. These sphincters are one-way gates the player can fly through, opening up more options.
There's also a new mechanic introduced with the acid ? when mixed with water, it releases a gas that makes you really slippery, causing you to spin out of control. Once you're in the spin, you must use the grappling hook to grab onto something more stable and then time your release perfectly to get around. It's tricky and challenging but adds another layer of both danger and precision to the game.
The second level I got to explore, ?Lights Out,? was what completely blew me away. Q-Games has incorporated a brand new way to create even more challenging puzzles with the application and manipulation of light and dark. As I flew around within the beast, I found survivors, but if they were in the dark, I had to figure out a way to get the light to them in order to save them. Shooting out certain areas allows more light in, and there are also movable light sources as well as monsters that shoot projectiles that light up different areas. But every time you fly in the dark, ominous eyes surround you. I was warned that ?bad things happen? if you stay in the dark too long, and after trying ? and failing ? to properly solve a puzzle, I found out exactly what that bad thing was.